Friday January 20th 2012
When The Telegraph broke the
storm in a teacup major international news story that a couple of people at the Liverpool One Odeon asked for refunds on The Artist because they didn’t realise it was a silent movie, few could have predicted how far the story would spread. Perez Hilton wrote about it, insisting that ‘some people need to learn how to use Imdb.com’. The Washington Post said it was ‘more ridiculous’ than the story about the woman who tried to sue Drive because it wasn’t like The Fast and The Furious. Even director Michel Hazanavicius weighed in on the subject, telling the Telegraph rather snidely:
“If I could give any advice to people it would be that they should ask for their money back whenever they see a film they don’t expect.”
It’s funny — I don’t remember Jon Turteltaub being hounded for comment after I walked out of National Treasure 2 a few years ago. So what’s so special about a couple of Liverpudlians taking offence at The Artist? Is it their geographical location? The audacity of their request for a refund? Or our own desire to laugh at people we perceive as ‘dumber’ than we are?
“You really didn’t know that The Artist was silent?” we ask, slapping them around the head with old copies of Variety, “you must be following the wrong people on Twitter. Weren’t you at the Cannes premiere? Please tell me you’re keeping up with the Oscar precursors.”
Not since Jeffrey Wells’s infamous ‘single mums in Leeds’ tirade has the world paid so much attention to the cinemagoing habits of northerners, and yet nobody’s even managed to track down one of the ‘irate’ customers in question. Isn’t it entirely possible that the two or three people who asked for refunds were perfectly intelligent adults who just didn’t realise what they were in for? After all, the film’s own trailer barely seems to realise it’s a silent movie, why should they?
Six years ago I went to see Brick on its opening weekend at an arthouse cinema in South London. Having not seen the trailer or read much about it, I wasn’t prepared for quite how stylised it would be. I didn’t really get it, so I left about ten minutes in and saw X-Men 3 instead. Does this make me an idiot? Does this mean I deserve to be patronised by Perez fucking Hilton and have Xan Brooks at The Guardian berate Hollywood’s lack of imagination on my behalf?
Or does it just mean that films like Brick and The Artist, for all their awards and critical acclaim, are still incapable of pleasing literally everyone? Be it a confused teenager at the Clapham Picturehouse or a tiny minority of cinemagoers at the Liverpool One Odeon.
If you still can’t get your head around the concept, take some comfort in the fact that I watched Brick again last year and enjoyed it quite a bit, albeit less than most critics. Who knows, maybe the staff at Liverpool Blockbuster will be rushed off their feet come July.